Christopher M. Rein, Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press, 2019

Alabamians in Blue examines the service of freedmen and southern Unionists to argue that the American Civil War was as much a practical contest for resources as it was an ideological struggle for the future of the American experiment. By arguing that slaveholders fomented rebellion in order to preserve their access to the uncompensated labor of slaves, and that slaves and Unionists both struck for freedom in order to gain or preserve access to the fruits of their own labor, Rein shifts the narrative from an ideological attachment to a nation-state to a more primitive contest for resources. The work places the American Civil War within a much longer line of warfare to secure access to items essential for both survival and success, including land, water, and labor. By leveraging examples of environmental collapse, both from wartime appropriations and a severe drought that ravaged the state during the war years, Rein demonstrates that Alabamians joined the Union Army for both ideological as well as more pragmatic reasons, in order to gain access to food and shelter essential for survival, and to obtain a measure of revenge against their oppressors.